Men have feelings, most of the time.
Men don’t share their feelings, a lot of the time.
Emotions act as a guide to our needs, wants and desires. When guys don’t share feelings, their experience of life, relationships, work, family, and more can be shrouded in mystery.
It’s extremely common for men to struggle to find a language for their emotional experience.
Many guys describe how they stumble to explain their emotions. Some of their awkwardness is about language.
The other significant influence on men’s emotional expression is our brains! Research suggests men’s capacity to process information is far slower than a woman’s. Women generally have much finer developed recall skills, something often lauded in couples conversations!
It appears many blokes simply need time to process their experience in order to make sense of it before they speak. This pace of processing can be a common cause of tension in a relationship especially when a guy seems to take forever to speak up!
Some men have no words for their emotional experience, literally?
Identifying language around emotion can be tricky. Lots of guys have great difficulty finding suitable words and therefore they rarely articulate emotions.
When a man has no words to express himself he may appear down, flat, shut down and withdrawn. Alternatively a guy struggling to communicate may feel inadequate and worthless which may show up in more irritable or aggressive moods.
All this ignites tension and confusion.
A Feelings list
Language doesn’t always do justice to our emotional experience.
However, words and expression of some kind are essential to enhance intimacy, connection and support in relationships.
This info graphic contains a collection of words neatly packed into categories of some basic primary emotions we all feel.
How to get a handle on our emotional experience?
The processing skills and awareness to manage emotions is an essential part of emotional intelligence. We need to make sense of our experience most of the time.
Here is a 6 step model that was developed by American psychologists who conducted research into how emotional expression helps to manage stress and distress.
Dealing with Emotions – 6 Simple Moves
1 – AUTOMATIC RESPONSE
An event creates an automatic feeling response. This is often accompanied by a physiological change within the body. This event may be an interaction with someone, watching something, hearing something or thinking of something. It’s a trigger.
Following the trigger comes the physical sensation(s). Ask yourself “What am I feeling? Where do I feel it?”
3 – NAME IT
Find the language or word(s) that fits this experience. Use the info graphic above as a guide. Be as descriptive as possible.
4 – CLARIFICATION
Check in with what actually happened to produce the feeling. Ask yourself: “What really triggered this?”
5 – ASSESSMENT
Remember all emotions are valid. They are valuable markers of something important happening to you that has meaning. This emotion is acceptable, your task is to establish what you need.
6 – CHOICES
Resist ignoring or denying your experience. Make a choice to do something. It could be to defuse a strong reaction, talk with someone, take some deep breaths, redirect your attention. Find a healthy way to cope with the feelings and establish a healthy outcome.
(adapted from an original model developed by Kennedy-Moore & Watson)
Moving between these steps a few times is a normal part of processing emotional experience. If you get lost a little, talk with someone.
Learning a language takes practice
For most men finding an emotional language doesn’t come naturally. It takes practice.
The benefits of safe expression of emotion include good mental health and strong relationships.
How do you recognise your emotions?
Let me know in the comments section.